OVC Preseason All-Conference Baseball Team, Poll


Published on February 15 2016 2:19 pm
Last Updated on February 15 2016 2:19 pm
Written by Millie Lange

As the 2016 college baseball season approaches, the Ohio Valley Conference released their preseason All-Conference team and the OVC preseason poll. The Panthers were selected to finish in 11th in the conference. Senior outfielder Demetre Taylor was selected to the preseason all-conference team. Taylor hit .400 including a team leading seven home runs and 35 RBI in OVC play last season. Taylor was also selected to the College Sport Madness’ Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Second-Team.

After winning the Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship a season ago and returning 17 lettermen this year Southeast Missouri has been tabbed the 2016 preseason favorite for the 11-team league in a vote of OVC head baseball coaches and sports information directors. In additional voting Austin Peay third baseman Logan Gray and Eastern Kentucky outfielder Kyle Nowlin were named OVC Preseason Co-Players of the Year while Southeast Missouri starter Joey Lucchesi was tabbed OVC Preseason Pitcher of the Year, after being awarded the honor at the end of last season.

Southeast Missouri received 19 of the 22 first-place votes while Austin Peay (2) and Tennessee Tech (1) picked up the other first-place votes. Overall the Redhawks received 199 total points to be picked the favorite. Jacksonville State was picked second (151) followed by Austin Peay (150), defending tournament champion Morehead State (145), Belmont (134), Tennessee Tech (126), SIUE (101), Eastern Kentucky (74), Murray State (59), UT Martin (46) and Eastern Illinois (25).

In all 18 players were selected to the Preseason All-OVC team. The 18 players represented all 11 teams who will compete for the OVC championship this season. Southeast Missouri and Austin Peay led the way with three selections each while Belmont, Eastern

Kentucky and Jacksonville State had two selections apiece.
Head Coach Steve Bieser returns to Southeast Missouri for his third season as head coach. In his first two years at the helm of the team Bieser has recorded two regular season championships helping the Redhawks become the first team to accomplish that feat since 2003 and 2004 (Austin Peay). The Redhawks return five positional starters and one starting pitcher. Among the returners is Lucchesi who was the 2015 OVC Pitcher of the Year and picked up that honor this preseason as well. The senior recorded a 3.17 ERA and a record of 7-2 with 93 strikeouts in 88 innings pitched. Other seniors returning who were selected to the Preseason All-OVC team include Ryan Rippee and Branden Boggetto, who were both named to the 2015 All-OVC second-team. The first baseman Rippee batted .299 with 70 hits, 12 home runs and 56 RBI a year ago, while the shortstop Boggetto fi nished the season batting .318 with 77 hits, 13 home runs and 61 RBI.

Jacksonville State finished fifth in the OVC last season boasting a record of 15-14 in Conference play. Head Coach Jim Case returns for his 15th year as the Gamecocks head coach and will return 18 lettermen including four positional starters and eight total pitchers. Jacksonville State had two players named to the Preseason All-OVC team including 2015 All-OVC first-team selection Paschal Petrongolo. The senior designated hitter returns after batting .368 with 82 hits, 48 runs and 59 RBI last season. Also named to the Preseason All-OVC team was sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Hoyt. Hoyt fi nished last season with a record of 1-0, a 2.01 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 22.1 innings. Also returning is senior Gavin Golsan who set the JSU single-season record with 38 stolen bases (in 42 attempts) a year ago; that ranked him seventh nationally with a 0.69/game average.

After winning three-straight OVC Tournament championships Austin Peay just missed the six-team tournament field each of the past two seasons. This year the Governors return eight positional starters along with their designated hitter and three starting pitchers. Among those returners was Preseason All-OVC selection (Starting Pitcher and Utility) Alex Robles, who earned first-team honors in 2015. In 16 appearances last year Robles recorded a 3.31 ERA and boasted a 6-3 record with 65 strikeouts in 84.1 innings. He was also one of the top hitters on the team batting .328 with three home runs and 39 RBI in 50 games. First-year head coach Travis Janssen also returns Gray, the Preseason OVC Co-Player of the Year, who earned second-team honors in 2015 and has been named a Preseason All-American by D1Baseball.com this season. Gray recorded a batting average of .366 along with 14 home runs, 39 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 38 games a year ago before missing the end of the season with an injury.

A season ago Morehead State set program records for overall (38) and Conference (20) victories on its way to its first OVC Tournament Championship since 1994 and first NCAA Tournament berth since 1983. Head coach Mike McGuire was named OVC Coach of the Year in leading a team that ranked first nationally in batting average (.332), scoring (8.4 runs/game), doubles (2.87/game) and slugging (.516). Among the offensive threats back this year is junior outfielder Ryan Kent who hit .356 with 90 hits, 65 runs, 20 doubles, 32 RBI and six stolen bases a season ago. Also back is junior Alex Stephens who was named MVP of the OVC Tournament after hitting .500 with seven RBI and a .929 slugging percentage in MSU’s three wins. On the mound Preseason All-OVC selection Luke Humphreys returns after recording seven victories a year ago; that was the most wins by an Eagles pitcher since the 2010 season. Also back is Matt Anderson who struck out a team-high 67 batters in 53.1 innings of work.

Belmont head coach Dave Jarvis returns five starters and five pitchers this season from a squad that won 29 games a season ago, including beating National Runner-Up Vanderbilt twice during the year. Among the starters back are a pair of preseason All-OVC selections in second baseman Tyler Fullerton and starting pitcher Aaron Quillen who were both named to the 2016 Preseason All-OVC team. Fullerton, who was named a first-team All-OVC pick in 2015, finished the season batting .355 with 75 hits, 11 home runs and 58 RBI. Quillen, who was named to the 2015 second-team All-OVC squad, recorded a 4.44 ERA and 5-5 record in 73 innings while also striking out 75 batters.

In his 13th season as head coach of the Tennessee Tech, Matt Bragga returns 14 lettermen including seven positional starters and six pitchers; the Golden Eagles also welcome 19 newcomers for 2016. Among those returners is redshirt junior outfielder Jake Rowland, who was selected to the Preseason All-OVC Team. Injured a season ago, Rowland finished the 2014 season batting .328 with 78 hits, 43 runs and six home runs. The team also returns 2015 OVC Freshman of the Year Ryan Flick who clubbed a team-high 10 home runs last year and earned Freshman All-American honors from Louisville Slugger.

After a third-place finish in the regular season last year SIUE returns three positional starters and seven pitchers; the Cougars also welcome 14 newcomers this season. Among those returners is senior starting pitcher P.J. Schuster, a Preseason All-OVC selection. Last year Schuster was a second-team All-OVC pick in recording an 8-3 record and 73 strikeouts in 79 innings of work. Head coach Tony Stoecklin, who returns for his fourth season at SIUE, also welcomes back 2015 Freshman All-American Dustin Woodcock; the outfielder hit .306 with 33 runs scored and 28 RBI a year ago.

Eastern Kentucky begins its first season under head coach Edwin Thompson who spent the previous three seasons on the staff at Georgia State and helped that program to a pair of 30-win seasons. Among the Colonels returning players is Nowlin, the senior outfielder who was named Preseason OVC Co-Player of the Year. A season ago Nowlin smashed 19 home runs in 50 games which gave him the best per-game home run average in Division I (0.38). He also ranked sixth nationally with a .690 slugging percentage to go along with 45 RBI, 49 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. That performance earned him 2016 Preseason All-American honors from each the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger. Nowlin was a Preseason All-OVC selection along with senior outfielder TJ Alas who led the Colonels with a .378 batting average last year. Also back is senior third baseman Mandy Alvarez who hit .319 with 15 doubles, 12 home runs and a team-best 47 RBI in 50 games.

After recording an 11-19 record in the OVC last year Murray State returns four positional starters and eight pitchers while also welcoming 21 newcomers. Among the returners for second-year head coach Kevin Moulder is Preseason All-OVC junior catcher Tyler Lawrence. Lawrence was named to the All-OVC second-team last year after batting .302 with 62 hits, 12 home runs and 46 RBI. In a game at the end of last season Lawrence went 5-for-5 with four home runs and 11 RBI in being named Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Week.

Head Coach Rick Robinson is in his second season at UT Martin and returns 14 players this season while also adding 19 newcomers. Among the returners is senior right-handed pitcher Patrick Bernard. Bernard was named to the Preseason All-OVC team after recording eight saves (second-most in the OVC) and boasting a 2-2 record with 46 strikeouts in 50.2 innings pitched a year ago. The eight saves established a new UTM single-season record; he enters this year tied for the school’s career saves record as well. Also back is sophomore Dillon Symon who compiled a 3.95 E.R.A. in 41 innings of relief a season ago.

Under first-year head coach Jason Anderson, Eastern Illinois returns 16 lettermen including four positional starters and three starting pitchers; the Panthers also welcome 15 newcomers in 2016. Senior outfielder Demetre Taylor, who was named to the 2015 All-OVC second-team, returns for the 2016 season after batting .384 with 63 hits, four triples, nine home runs and 46 RBI a season ago. Also back is sophomore outfielder Joseph Duncan who hit .303 with 59 hits, 12 RBI and eight stolen bases as a freshman.

The 68th season of OVC baseball will get underway on Friday, Feb. 19 with the first weekend of league play being held March 11-13. The season will culminate with the 2016 OVC Championship which will be held for the seventh year in a row at The Ballpark at Jackson in Jackson, Tennessee. The venue is the home of the Jackson Generals, the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. The tournament runs May 25-29.

2016 OVC Baseball Predicted Order of Finish
1. Southeast Missouri (19 fi rst-place votes) 199
2. Jacksonville State 151
3. Austin Peay (2) 150
4. Morehead State 145
5. Belmont 134
6. Tennessee Tech (1) 126
7. SIUE 101
8. Eastern Kentucky 74
9. Murray State 59
10. UT Martin 46
11. Eastern Illinois 25
(10 points awarded for a fi rst-place vote, 9 for second, etc. - Coaches/SID’s could not vote for their own teams)
2016 Preseason All-OVC Baseball Team
Preseason OVC Co-Player of the Year: Logan Gray, Austin Peay
Preseason OVC Co-Player of the Year: Kyle Nowlin, Eastern Kentucky
Preseason OVC Pitcher of the Year: Joey Lucchesi, Southeast Missouri
C- Tyler Lawrence, Murray State
1B- Ryan Rippee, Southeast Missouri
2B- Tyler Fullerton, Belmont
SS- Branden Boggetto, Southeast Missouri
3B- Logan Gray, Austin Peay
OF- Kyle Nowlin, Eastern Kentucky
OF- Demetre Taylor, Eastern Illinois
OF- TJ Alas, Eastern Kentucky
OF- Jake Rowland, Tennessee Tech
DH- Paschal Petrongolo, Jacksonville State
UT- Alex Robles, Austin Peay
SP- Joey Lucchesi, Southeast Missouri
SP- Alex Robles, Austin Peay
SP- P.J. Schuster, SIUE
SP- Luke Humphreys, Morehead State
SP- Aaron Quillen, Belmont
RP- Justin Hoyt, Jacksonville State
RP- Patrick Bernard, UT Martin